updated 04:45 pm EDT, Fri May 11, 2007
iPhone May See T-Mobile
Germany-based T-Mobile may become the iPhone's official carrier for Europe, according to those close to the negotiations. Although it had previously been suggested that Vodafone would win -- an implication the carrier publically denied -- it's now believed that its rival at T-Mobile is favored as the sole outlet for iPhone sales in the continent. Other Europe-wide providers such as O2 and Orange were said to have been in the running but unsuccessful in reaching the later stages of contract discssions. Terms of a possible deal weren't discussed but may be different than the multi-year exclusivity agreement Apple has signed with AT&T in the US.
Concerns have been raised about the wisdom of the deal, however. Gartner research head Martin Gutberlet has indicated that while Vodafone's customized Live! Portal would be at odds with Apple's handset, which will likely insist on iTunes as its sole PC interface, the choice of T-Mobile would artificially limit the iPhone's potential market.
"It would be in Apple's best interests to get more than one operator to distribute the phone because the European market is more fragmented than the US," Gutberlet said. T-Mobile does not operate in as many countries as Vodafone, and would be locked out of key European countries such as France, Italy, and Spain.
T-Mobile would likely be Apple's top pick due to its recent emphasis on music, the Gartner analyst pointed out.